Let battle commence

The chemotherapy treatment began late this afternoon. At 5.10pm a litre bag of chemical goodness was hung from a metal pole, fed through a device which controls the release of it, and then on through a pipe into a port that’s been fitted to my right arm.

That in itself was something of a trauma as I have a major needle phobia. They prescribed a lot of Lorazepam, though I explained I’d need much more, and the process to feed a 46cm tube from my right arm and through a vein so I reached near my heart took place. All in all around 30 to 40 minutes by the team who used a variety of diagnostic tools including ultrasound to ensure the line was perfectly in place. They did it! I was a gibberish wreck but, hey, I don’t think anybody noticed…

Day one of the chemo is pretty intense. It’s a 24 hour continuous infusion of piclitaxel, alongside dexamethasone, diphenhydramine and one other to minimise the side effects, primarily nausea.

The pump that pushes all the chemo into me.

As I write this it all feels perfectly normal barring a very sore arm from where the line was fitted. Let’s see what happens with these side effects by the time tomorrow morning comes around.

On days two, three four and five I’ll get infusions of ifosfamide and cisplatin through my line, and a drug called mensa which will protect my bladder from damage.

After that it’s a mega dose of an antibiotic and then daily injections of blood thinners to reduce the risk of clots. That’s stuff, from day six onwards should be able to happen at home until day 21 when the whole cycle begins again back in Southampton General.

I may look different when I return as the consultant said my hair May start falling out as soon as week two. I have my beanie hats on stand by! Dates wise it looks like, with a fair wind, I could be home on a Christmas Eve, which would be just lovely.

The whole set up here is brilliant. The doctors and nurses clearly know what they’re doing, and all the support staff, from cleaners to those in charge of the food are super friendly and always happy to chat. And the choice of food is impression, with an a la carte menu to suit most, and an M&S and Costa in the entrance, too.

Plumbed in and ready to go!

I also met the Channel Islands liaison nurse who deals with patients from Jersey and Guernsey who will book my travel on discharge day as soon as we know I’m a free man (for now). She also offered some thoughts for Alan who has to pay for his own flights and accommodation but wants to be here with me for all four of the cycles of treatment.

Being in hospital has brought back a number of memories of when I had chemotherapy 20 years ago. Little things like the slow pace of events on the ward, the inevitable “will I die?” feelings that you just can’t help, and also a reminder that while I feel fine just now, the chemo will start doing stuff fairly sharpish. Though how that’ll manifest itself in me is a current known unknown.

Getting used to room service…

Alan, my husband, is here with me every step of the way. I know it’s been tough to see him taking it all in, watching on as a medical team we’re inserting the line as I had a mini meltdown, but primarily it’s about sitting being bored. We’re getting good use of podcasts, books and magazines, and we have games and an iPad full of a Netflix stuff for when the time is right.

A number of lovely friends have indicated they’ll be paying a visit on my second cycle here, and I’ve had message from back home offering all kinds of support from offers of coffee and cake, to chats where I can just vent, and even an offer to trim our front hedge. Practical and appreciated!

I’m sure by the next blog there’ll be more of a chemo experience to share with you but I just wanted to keep you updated and say thanks to the hundreds of people who either sent me messages or comments on social media posts. I haven’t replied to them all but I have read every single one. They all mean a lot and have been a joy to look back on and read during a couple of moments.

As it stands, there’s a mere 22 hours and 25 minutes left on this bag. It’s 6.45pm and, while it’s early, I think I’ll turn in for the night soon. Today’s kind of taken it out of me. Let’s see what Friday has in store.

21 thoughts on “Let battle commence

  1. Well done for doing this Gary. People often get scared and close up when going through chemotherapy and they shouldn’t. I told my wife when she was there have her treatment that the best medicine is to write about experiences and 1 day look back at what you wrote to remember the struggles you overcame. Unfortunately she never got a chance to read those thoughts back. Don’t mean to scare but continue to think those good thoughts and when you have your bad days, because inevitably you will, just remember those good days, because there are more good than bad. Keep writing, cos I’ll keep reading. Keep your chin up Gary, wishing you well and hope to see you back on our screens 👍🇬🇬

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Gary

    I have a fear of flying so I totally understand what you have for needles. They would have to use a tranquillising dart on me to get me there in the first place!! So you are being incredibly brave x

    I could not imagine going through all you are going through without my dog – are patients allowed to see their pets?

    Sorry to be typing all this nonsense but I am hoping it will be a bit of a distraction and make you think “why is this strange woman sending me messages?”

    Anyway, please keeping up the blog as I am sure there are lots of other people here in Jersey who have grown to care a lot about you over the years.

    You always make your reports interesting, humorous and in my house we actually air punched and cheered when you told that bunch of States clowns to stop sitting on the fence and to basically take the splinter out of their arses (not quite verbatim 😂) in respect of making a decision on the hospital- well done you!

    Sending you lots of love and healing

    Jayne from JAAR xxxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sending caring thoughts from San Antonio, Texas—I love your reporting and have been encouraged and educated by your ME Podcasts. Take it as it comes, and know that others are praying for you!🌻

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You’re amazing Gary, I’m so sorry to hear you have this horrible illness but from reading this and how strong you’re being, and with Alan beside you, you’ll smash it 👊❤xx

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Reading and writing this at 07.15 Friday morning, hope that you had as comfortable night as possible and that everything goes according to plan with not too much discomfort. Thinking of you both and again if there’s anything I can do, anything just ask. Sending you all my love and prayers (covering the bases my boy, covering the bases) and I did smile at the offer to trim your front hedge………wondering if it was a euphemism! Anyway stay Strong Monsieur Burjay and I will speak soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ah that lovely Southampton hospital menu. Brings back memories from earlier this year, but trust me, you will spoon get fed up of it !!
    You are certainly on one heck of a concoction there Gary, and I sincerely hope they all do there job.
    I was lucky to have my Chemo in Jersey, but had to fly to Southampton for a lung removal after they found lung cancer on top of the lymphoma. Pleased to say op went well, and back on a new Chemo drug at home now since May.
    Regarding air travel for your husband, I had a similar problem, as my daughter joined me originally, and once she had to return to Jersey, my partner joined me. Needless to say the Jersey travel office would not cover much of this. However, there is help out there as I found later, try JCR.
    Wishing you all the very best, and hoping you get back for Christmas.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I am sure every single person in Jersey, if they knew your situation, would be right there behind you battling this with you Gary , and wishing you a speedy recovery and return home, Take each day as it comes, laugh, cry and kiss ass.
    You’re a credit to our island and we’re all there with you in spirit !
    Sending lots of love and positivity. Xxxx

    Liked by 1 person

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